United States District Court, C.D. California
May 9, 2014
LOGAN GREEN INVESTMENT, LLC AS TRUSTEE OF THE BRANFORD TRUST DATED 10/17/13, Plaintiff,
CUTBERTO COSIO, ET AL., Defendants.
ORDER SUMMARILY REMANDING IMPROPERLY-REMOVED ACTION
GEORGE H. KING, District Judge.
Before the Court is an unlawful detainer action that has been improvidently removed from the Los Angeles County Superior Court. For the following reasons, the case is summarily remanded back to the Superior Court.
On October 31, 2013, after purchasing real property at a foreclosure sale, Plaintiff filed an unlawful detainer action in the Superior Court of Los Angeles to gain possession of the property. On April 22, 2014, Jorge Mayen, who intervened in the unlawful detainer action as a tenant, removed the action to this court. Simply put, because Plaintiff could not have brought this action in federal court in the first place (because there is no subject matter jurisdiction), Defendant cannot remove it to this court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); and Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Svcs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 563 (2005). This case does not meet the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because it does not raise a federal question. Defendant's attempt to convert the case into a federal one by raising various federal laws as a defense does not alter the analysis. In determining whether there is federal question jurisdiction, the Court looks only to the claims raised in the complaint, not to Defendant's defenses. See Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 60 (2009) ("Federal jurisdiction cannot be predicated on an actual or anticipated defense."). The Complaint sets forth that the state action was brought under state law as an unlawful detainer action.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff intentionally crafted the Complaint to appear to raise only state issues when the action really centers on federal law. The Court disagrees. This actions appears to be a routine unlawful detainer action based on state law and does not implicate federal law.
The Court also concludes that there is no diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 because, even if Defendant could establish that the parties are diverse, it is clear from the face of the Complaint that the amount in controversy is less than $15, 000. This figure is based on Plaintiff's claim that Defendant owes rent in the amount $66.00 per day from October 17, 2013, until today. Defendant contends that Plaintiff obtained its rights in the property in a foreclosure sale when it purchased a defaulted note for $310, 000 and argues that this establishes that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Defendant is simply mistaken. Defendant is not claiming title to the property. He is arguing that he should not be removed as a tenant and/or should not have to pay rent to Plaintiff because he did not sign a lease with Plaintiff. Thus, the value of the home is not in issue, merely the rent, and that amounts to less than $15, 000.
Defendant argues that the case is removable under 28 U.S.C. § 1443. This provision allows a defendant to remove an action from state court if he can show that the state court will not enforce federal equal protection laws. In order to remove a case under this section, however, a defendant must do more than merely allege that the state court will not enforce equal protection laws, he must also allege that he attempted to invoke such a law and that the state court refused to enforce it because a state law or constitutional provision commanded the court to ignore federal law. See Patel v. Del Taco, Inc., 446 F.3d 996, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2006) (holding petition for removal under § 1443 must assert equal protection rights will not be enforced by state court due to state statute or constitutional provision that commands state court to ignore federal rights). Defendant cannot do so here because nothing in the California Constitution or any state law commands state judges to ignore federal equal protection guarantees. As such, this argument is rejected.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that (1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), this matter is REMANDED to the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, 1725 Main Street, Santa Monica, California 90401; (2) the clerk shall send a certified copy of this Order to the state court; and (3) the clerk serve copies of the Order on the parties.
IT IS SO ORDERED.